Sleep: Catch More Z’s

Sleep: Catch More Z’s

HEALTHY LIVING WITH DR. ERNEST LEVISTER F.A.C.P., F.A.C.P.M.


Getting the sleep you need shouldn’t be left to chance. Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Having healthy sleep habits is often referred to as having good sleep hygiene. Try to keep the following sleep practices on a consistent basis:

Wake up at the same time each day. It is tempting to sleep late on weekends, especially if one has had poor sleep during the week. However, if you suffer from insomnia you should get up at the same time every day in order to train your body to wake at a consistent time.

Eliminate nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and other stimulants. The effects of caffeine can last for several hours, perhaps up to 24 hours, so the chances of it affecting sleep are significant. Alcohol may have a sedative effect for the first few hours following consumption, but it can then lead to frequent arousals and a non-restful night’s sleep.

Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can improve sleep quality and duration. However, exercising immediately before bedtime can have a stimulant effect on the body and should be avoided.

Limit activities in bed. The bed is for sleeping and having sex and that’s it. If you suffer from insomnia, do not balance the checkbook, study, make phone calls, etc. while in bed or even in the bedroom, and avoid watching television or listening to the radio.

Do not eat or drink right before going to bed. Eating a late dinner or snacking before going to bed can activate the digestive system and keep you up. In addition, excessive drinking prior to bed can overwhelm the bladder, requiring frequent visits to the bathroom.

Make your sleeping environment comfortable. Temperature, lighting, and noise should be controlled to make the bedroom conducive to falling (and staying) asleep. Your bed should feel comfortable not too firm or too soft.        

Reduce stress. There are a number of relaxation therapies and stress reduction methods you may want to try to relax the mind and the body before going to bed. Examples include progressive muscle relaxation (perhaps with audio tapes), deep breathing techniques, imagery, meditation, and biofeedback.

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